Friday, August 10, 2012

The High Road

On the clean and cool streets of San Francisco, I needed walking directions from the Mission to the Upper Haight. They didn’t have to be good directions, just the general “turn right” or “turn left” at the next corner type of guidance.

I stopped into the nearest place of business, a Laundromat, where the only people on site were 2 young men who weren’t doing a lick of laundry. I asked the more sober of the two for directions. “I’m not sure,” he said. “He’d be the one to ask,” pointing to his associate, who was squinting and barely able to stand up. Lucy was in the sky with cubic zirconia. I wasn’t expecting someone this high to be able to speak, but he wasted no time in lunging forward, eager to make himself useful.

“Now, first of all, you shouldn’t walk because that would take you, like, a day,” his opening statement began, while he stood hunched over, with one arm down the back of his pants.

I eventually got to where I needed to be, on my wits. The farther up the Haight St. hill I hustled, the more the passers-by looked to be in contention for the blue ribbon in a Laundromat Lucy look-alike/act-alike contest. Was the boy accosting me about weed trying to buy or sell? Chances are, he didn’t know either.

First by circumstances and then by choice, I’ve spent this lifetime in the company of people who think, look, and live differently from me. But this part of town was a reminder that I haven’t had much direct exposure to the druggies.

I prefer the drunks. The drunks, I get.

The greatest drunk I know lives one floor above me, and he adores animals the way I do. You should have seen the level of care he gave his elderly dog; and the way he mourned her after she died of old age. He now has 3 or 4 cats and, in spite of all the hard liquor he reeks of at all hours of the day, he diligently leaves the air-conditioning on for them when it’s warm, while he’s out doing whatever he does when he staggers out of our building. (One of these days, I plan to follow him, no matter where it takes me. Just need to know.)

His newest cat is a charmer. She’s enormous, like something out of science fiction. I’ve seen my drunk walk her on a leash. He rescued her off the street, and she has 8 claws. He says it’s good luck. 


  1. 8 claws? That's hectic. Anyway, I've always said that if my religion permitted me to drink, I'd be drunk ALL DAY - every. single. day.

    I'd have no reason to be sober ever. This is almost guaranteed for two reasons:I have a super addictive personality and a history of ancestors who battled with alcoholism. And since I carry the genetic marker...

  2. You really have a whole planet full of these very picturesque characters and their lovable pets. Do you just ask the universe, and they show up? You have enough material here for a book. Did I say book?...Next year, maybe?

  3. I agree with Noury. Time for a book, book, book. :)

  4. RR: hope your trip to the Bay Area was, on balance, a good thing. If you're ever out in sf again, give your cupcake loving friends a call or send an email: